Entry-level noise-cancelling headphones
- Low-cost noise cancelling, powerful bass, folding design
- Bass too dominant, sound a little veiled, highs are somewhat recessed
Creative's HN-605 headphones are a low cost entry into the noise-cancelling headphone market. They don't do anything extraordinary and users looking for top quality audio will be disappointed, but aside from that they do a reasonable job.
Price$ 69.95 (AUD)
Sitting at the budget end of the increasingly competitive noise-cancelling headphone category, Creative's HN-605 headphones are decent but not outstanding. The entry-level price point indicates these headphones aren't expected to compete with more high-end products, but nonetheless we were a little disappointed with the quality of the audio they produced.
With noise cancelling switched off everything sounds horrible; this should be avoided at all cost. It's basically like listening through a sheet of cloth, with everything extremely muffled and lacking definition. As a result, we did the bulk of our tests with noise cancelling enabled.
However, even turning it on didn't fix things entirely. We still found the sound lacked clarity and detail, although it was much improved. The general tone of the audio is quite forward and punchy, but it comes across as somewhat overbearing at times.
This can be mostly attributed to the overly bombastic low register notes. These headphones produce some extremely powerful, deep bass that really dominates the overall sound. This can be good for some styles of music, but we found it disconcerting when listening to a lot of instrumental genres. It also needed to be a little tighter and more controlled.
On the other hand the mid range was reasonable, with a rich, slightly gritty sound. It could have used more separation between the different elements, but it was adequate for most genres and handled guitars quite well. We'd have liked the highs to be more pronounced, however. They seemed slightly recessed and lacked the sweetness we like to hear in things such as piano-based tunes.
The soundstage was fairly standard for a pair of headphones in this price range, with a somewhat flat presentation that isn't likely to impress. It isn't particularly bad, but it certainly isn't as immersive as the sound produced by some other models.
Powered by a single AAA battery, the noise cancelling is fairly good. It did a fine job of blocking out basic ambient sound during our office tests, and we weren't able to hear anyone talking to us with music playing. Outdoors they performed pretty well too, keeping traffic noise out without trouble. With no music actually running they weren't quite as impressive, but for users looking for a low-cost solution for noisy environments these headphones should satisfy.
They are comfortable to wear for long listening sessions, with small pleather cups that sit snugly on the ears. The band is adjustable, although it is somewhat flimsy, which may be a concern for travellers. Fortunately, they fold up to allow easy storage.
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